Sunday, March 8, 2009


A while back, in a blog entry that would probably better qualify as a rant, I was expressing my rather unflattering views about groupies. So it's a little ironic to be talking about myself today as a fan girl. Though I will say there is a difference!! (At least there is in the twisted little world I evolve in!)

Last Thursday, we were having a design lunch to discuss SA (among other things) but mainly to come up with ways to try and fix the never ending saga of the ghost cams. And it was one of those discussions where you can see the goal, you can almost touch it, but there are so many hurdles in between you and it. You bounce ideas off of each other and they get shut down with very valid arguments, then revived with as valid counter arguments, and so on and so forth.

Halfway through the discussion, I was explaining why one of the proposed solutions wouldn't work because applied one way, it could be circumvented, while applied the other way, it would unfairly punish legit players. And it suddenly dawned on me (again!) that here I was, little Sakkarah from Atlantic, playing with the big boys. I mean to have Leurocian sitting at my right, Draconi and Uriah (Calvin) sitting across the table from me, and Wilki on my left, all of them paying close attention to my words and valuing my input, it was just eerie. And I was like "OMG, I'm still a fan girl!" Sheesh!

I was telling a buddy of mine about it and he said he didn't know how I did it. In my shoes, he would be too intimidated, afraid what he proposed would come across as lame, that he couldn't picture himself arguing against an idea these guys would come up with and that frankly, he didn't think they would give his ideas any real consideration. First off, I pointed out to him that he already argues with them about their ideas on the forums. And he was like, "Dang, you're right!" Of course I am! :P But I also explained to him that there is one thing I've learned over the years, mostly when I worked in the music and movie industry: even the greatest of idols is just another person. And being a yes man or a yes girl (ie a groupie) is the best way to make sure no one will ever care to hear anything you have to say.

It's not because you disagree with them that you have less respect or admiration for them. If you have been put in a position where your opinion or creative input is required, then you shouldn't be embarrassed or apologetic about it. Just be true to yourself and stand by what you believe in without trying to impose it onto others. That's always been my philosophy and I'm just too darn opinionated to act otherwise! I could go on a spiel about "have faith in yourself" and all that jazz, but I won't. Ok, ok, I lie. I had in fact written another four paragraphs which really ended up sounding preachy, self-righteous and holier than thou. So I delete them! (owned!)

Anyways, I just wanted to say that you know how sometimes you put people on a pedestal and once you meet them irl you feel it was a total let down? Well, I thought it was pretty cool realizing that after a year of working closely with those guys, I'm still a fan.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The New FICO

Aside from language, one of the first things that hit me when I first moved to the US is how everything here is ruled by your credit score. To get an apartment, utilities, cellphone and even certain jobs, your credit score is a major factor. So imagine me freshly landed in VA being told that even though the three US companies that monitor credit are exactly the same in Canada, they couldn't use my Canadian credit history in the US. As such, I was a nobody and therefore considered a credit risk. Imagine also that for the first month, I couldn't even get gas or electricity because they won't give it to you unless you have a social security number. Except it takes a little over 4 weeks for a new US resident to get one. This all translated as me having to make big security deposits for absolutely everything, including a $700 deposit just for a stupid cell phone.

So I was browsing the International Game Developers Association discussion group on Linkedin when I stumbled on the Reputation Share thread. Their goal is to provide a type of FICO score not for your credit history, but for your online behavior. I have to say I have extremely mixed feelings about it. Here's an excerpt from their information white paper:

"When someone registers on a site supported by ReputationShare, the service knows at least some of the following:
• This user is unknown. This email has never been used on any site in the participating network
• This user has reputation reports from 37 sites in our network. They have used these sites 5,233 times over the past 32 months without any negative incidents
• This user has 17 complaints against their reputation – 16 for spam, one for bullying...
• This user has made purchases from 73% of the e‐commerce websites they joined in our network. (You may want to greet this user with a discount coupon.)
• This user has bought from e‐commerce websites in our network 13 times, and reported for charge‐back fraud all 13 times.
• This user has been banned from one or more sites in our network for soliciting for sex from a user whose profile is that of a minor."

There is no question that it would be nice to track sexual predators, especially in MMOs. As a former guildmistress, I've had to deal with such situations: one where one of my female guildmember had to get a restraining order against a former guildmate who was stalking her in real life after she put an end to their in game relationship. Another where I found out that the 29 yo female I had just booted from the guild had been having cyber sex and phone sex with a 14 yo kid in the guild. And that makes me think yeah, I definitely would much rather keep such people out of the games I play or work on, and away from children.

Then you're looking at all the scammers, griefers and exploiters and thinking yeah, without such creeps, the game would be so much better! Problem is, people, especially in this last group, do change. My own experience (which is in no way meant to be taken as an official statistics) has been that most of the scammers and griefers are teenagers. Many exploiters also are teens with quite a few in their early 20s, but still fairly young and irresponsible. And I've found them to have really improved their ways as they mature. Problem is, your FICO has a way of sticking to you like white on rice. Repairing it can be extremely difficult.

Some of you will say "Tough luck! They should have thought about it first!" I don't quite disagree. You should be held accountable to a certain extent for your misbehavior. My problem is that FICO type of systems have too much of a "guilty until proven innocent" approach. As with my "coming to America" story, scoring systems punish you right off the bat with all kinds of penalties not because of any wrongdoings on your part, but simply because you haven't yet proven yourself.

I've known people who have always paid all of their bills on time, who owe nothing and who never borrowed because they don't believe in credit or being in debt. You'd think they'd be the ideal candidate for a mortgage right? But no, they can't get a loan because they don't have credit history. They are nobodies... Once rating Internet behavior becomes a standard, how long will it take before you're asked to make hefty security deposits because you are new to the scene or had a few misconducts years ago when you didn't know better? I support the idea behind this service, I just don't think I agree with the service itself.